Irish presidential election 2018 happens Friday, the 26th of October, and it will answer if Michael D. Higgins is returned for a second term.
In the recent past, presidents standing for a second term were unopposed. Such was the case for Mary McAleese, who was re-elected without opposition in 2004, and for Patrick Hillery in 1983. Higgins does not get that luxury, as not only will he have an opponent, he gets five. Not only that, but several have a very similar television background. You could call this the “Dragons’ Den” election in Ireland.
Here’s more on the candidates and what happened last time.
Irish Presidential Election 2018: The Electoral System
Ireland’s presidential elections use the “single-transferable vote” system. (Link: CitizensInformation.ie) This is also known as the alternative vote or the instant runoff system. Like one might see in the Australian Federal House elections, all candidates start with their primary vote. The two candidates with the lowest totals are eliminated, and their votes are redistributed. It may take a day or two, but eventually, you will have the final two candidates, with the top vote-getter winning the presidency.
Irish Presidential Election 2018: The Incumbent President
Michael D. Higgins has served in this office since 2011. Before being elected to the presidency, he was a member of the Labour Party.
In the 2011 presidential election, Higgins defeated six other entries to win. His main rival was Seán Gallagher, a name you will see again very shortly. Higgins took almost 40 percent of the primary (first preference) vote, and ended with 56.8 percent. He became the second Labour Party president after Mary Robinson.
Fianna Fáil, once a dominant force in Irish politics, was a non-participant in 2011. They remain as such in 2018, only available in throwing their support to the independent candidacy of Higgins.
Prior to becoming Ireland’s head of state, Higgins was the chairman of the Labour Party and served as a Galway West TD in the 1990s. Higgins was the Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltacht under two different taoisigh (prime ministers).
Irish Presidential Election 2018: Other Candidates
Seán Gallagher (Ind). Gallagher ran for president seven years ago, coming in second to Higgins. Politically, he was previously a long-standing member of Fianna Fáil, but he became known in Ireland for being a “dragon” on “Dragons’ Den,” a television show on Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ. The American equivalent of the show is “Shark Tank.”
Peter Casey (Ind.) Casey is a businessman who, like Gallagher, was an investor on RTÉ’s “Dragons’ Den.” Notably, he called Ireland a “welfare-dependent state.” (Link: Independent.ie)
Gavin Duffy (Ind.) Do I even have to go through the biography? Another businessman, another “Dragon’s Den” panelist. His background is in media and human resources recruiting.
Joan Freeman (Ind.) Freeman is a sitting senator who took office in 2016. Enda Kenny, former Taoiseach, nominated her for office. She was previously involved in charitable organizations focusing on suicide prevention and mental health.
Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin). Sinn Féin was the only political party to nominate a candidate in this election. She is at present a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Ireland’s South constituency.
Irish Presidential Election 2018: Results
President Michael D. Higgins was re-elected with a majority vote on the first ballot.
Higgins carried every constituency in the Republic of Ireland, winning in most with a majority. There were a handful, however, in which he did not take a majority of the vote. They were:
• Donegal (38.1 percent)
• Cavan-Monaghan (44.3 percent)
• Roscommon-Galway (45.1 percent)
• Tipperary (45.5 percent)
• Offaly (47 percent)
• Longford-Westmeath (47.5 percent)
• Limerick County (48.1 percent)
• Sligo-Leitrim (49.1 percent)
• Laois (49.8 percent)
• Mayo (49.8 percent)
Peter Casey finished in second in all of the above constituencies. Casey’s closest call was in Donegal, where he took 32.8 percent. His top constituency was Tipperary, taking 36.8 percent.
Seán Gallagher’s high water mark was in Cavan-Monaghan with 17.9 percent.
Liadh Ní Riada posted her best result in Dublin Central with 11.6 percent of the vote.
Joan Freeman did best in Dublin Mid-West with 9.4 percent.
Finally, Gavin Duffy’s top constituency was Louth, where he received 4.7 percent.
For other news on European elections we have covered, check out our European elections page.